Category Archives: Lebanon

Books not Boots: UK Embassy Donates $50 Million To Public Schools and Educational Projects In Lebanon

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Tom Fletcher

Public schools in Lebanon can accommodate up to 300,000 students and there are 275,000 students expected to enroll in the 2014-2015 academic year. The remaining 25,000 are usually allocated to refugees however there are 400,000 Syrian refugees wishing to enroll in public schools next year, which means that the majority of Syrian children in Lebanon will be left out of school and with no education.

In order to help us cope with this catastrophic situation, British Ambassador Tom Fletcher announced during a tour of one of the public schools in Beirut’s suburbs that the UK is donating almost $50 million dollars for schools and related projects in Lebanon. This will help over 400 public schools accept further Syrian students and will allow every child in Lebanon to have a set of textbooks.

Education is the strongest weapon against terrorism and extremism and it is our responsibility to help out these vulnerable Syrian students.

kid This young Syrian boy never went to school. He fled his country when he was four, and enrolled in school in Lebanon as a kindergarten student last year. This year, he was not allowed to enroll in school. Even though he can’t read or write, while the rest of the children were drawing the cliché smiling suns and square houses, he chose to redraw words he saw on the walls around him. He drew from right to left, like Arabic, but it was the months of the year in English. Picture by Gino

Beirut’s Rose House (La Maison Rose) Is Opening To The Public

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British Artist Tom Young will be showcasing his work and hosting a series of events at ‘La Maison Rose’ or ‘The Pink House’ from November 19 till the end of December. Young had already transformed the abandoned ‘Villa Paradiso’ in Gemmayzeh into an exhibition venue last year and decided to do the same with the Rose House after his two month artist residency there. The exhibition will showcase 40 paintings that evoke the dreamlike nature of the house, and the dramatic contrasts at play in Beirut. A film about the process which led to the exhibition will also be screened. This is the first time that the Rose House is open to the public.

I think everyone should go visit the Rose House and encourage Young’s initiative to put this old Lebanese house on the cultural map and host more cultural and art events there. We need to preserve our heritage and stop demolishing these old fantastic Beirut houses to make way for skyscrapers and commercial centers.

PS: The BeirutReport originally posted about that.

manara rose house

rose house

Overlooking the lighthouse in Manara, Ras Beirut is an iconic 19th Century mansion, often known as ‘La Maison Rose’ or ‘The Pink House’. In April 2014, British artist Tom Young knocked on the door of the building. Having successfully transformed the abandoned ‘Villa Paradiso’ in Gemmayzeh into an exhibition venue last year, he wondered: perhaps he could paint here, and maybe do an exhibition about it.
Since then he has been making a body of work which will culminate in a self-curated, on-site exhibition called “At The Rose House”, which opens on November 18th and runs until the end of December 2014.
The resident of the house, Fayza El Khazen, offered Young studio space in the mansion over the summer. Her family had lived there for 50 years. Young discovered that she was leaving her home in the coming months. There was a sense of urgency to capture the last days of the house in its present state.
Young wondered about the fate of the building, concerned it may be demolished to make way for another high rise tower. He believes that art and culture have a role to play in protecting heritage and giving it a new lease of life. This place could become a gem on the city’s cultural map. So he contacted the new owners, the Jaroudi family, to propose his idea to use the house as a venue for an exhibition. They gave him their blessing for the project.
Young is intrigued by the artistic history of the house: he learned about the house’s role as a social magnet for the city’s cultural tastemakers since the 1960’s. El Khazin’s late brother, Sami was a famous painter and architect. Part of the exhibition will feature an installation of Sami’s paintings, honouring him and the memory of the family. Young sees his project as a continuation of the creativity which has always flourished in the house.

[YouTube]

A Kim Kardashian Inspired Lebanese Campaign To (Try To) Break The Lebanese Government

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No one’s breaking the Lebanese government and when we had the chance as Lebanese to say no, only few of us went down and got beaten up while trying to say no to the extension. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t hurt for politicians to eat the crap we’re apparently eating everyday according to our Health Minister lol!

By the way and speaking of Kim Kardashian, let’s just keep in mind that her ugly plastic ass made the headlines around the world while the Rosetta mission was making history by landing on the surface of a comet. This is very similar to what’s happening in Lebanon lately, whereas we ignore important topics and get distracted by silly things or come up with silly things to promote noble causes but end up forgetting all about them (Just like that Ice Bucket Challenge).

This #Telhassotize reminded me of the “Strip for Jackie” campaign. Where is Jackie anyway?

Roadster Diner To Donate A Full Working Lab To The Health Ministry

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roadster

Roadster Diner has re-asserted its commitment to food safety and quality and has decided to donate a full working lab to the Ministry of Public Health to improve their capabilities. Of course this is a good move but I am honestly quite surprised that the full report hasn’t been issued yet by Minister Bou Faour. We know nothing about the nature of the violations, the standards applied etc …

Instead of announcing few names every now and then, he should do it all at once and follow up in a month and that’s it. If his results are scientific and prove wrongdoings we all want to see how and where. As for Roadster, and despite being ISO 22000 certified, I think they should release reports showing their chicken is safe from the same laboratories the government is using.

[YouTube]

What Could غير مطابق Mean?

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kol via Al Jomhouria

Public Health Minister Wael Bou Faour published a new list of “bad” restaurants and supermarkets today but we have yet to see the full report upon which these checks were conducted. Just to make myself clear, I am fully supportive of this initiative but I don’t agree with the approach that the minister has taken. The businesses that were found guilty and the Lebanese have the right to know everything related to this scandal and what how severe is every violation. Stating that a specific item at a reputable chain or supermarket is “غير مطابق” could mean a million things and not giving further details could harm a restaurant’s reputation and scare away customers for the wrong reasons.

Moreover, I am very surprised that he hasn’t released the full list and is giving out few names every 2 or 3 days. What’s the point of that? Why focus on few names and leave the rest for later? If he wants his campaign to be successful, he should be scientific and professional about it. In all cases, everyone is still waiting for the full report if it will ever be released.

In order to illustrate better what I mean, check out Elyse Abdel Massih‘s take on this matter and the example she gave of what a “غير مطابق” chicken breast could mean:

To help better illustrate this, i’ll give a short example of how a simple chicken breast might be evaluated by the ministry and for the sake of argument lets forgo for now any potential responsibility of the suppliers who actually provide the chicken to their client restaurants and supermarkets.

1- Did the restaurant follow the right checklist for each item received to make sure that the received item is up to the health standard? (Expiry date, quantity, description of item, temperature, clean, odor, color, refrigerated…) ?
2- Did the restaurant have these sections available: cold section, dry stores, vegetable section, pastry lab, dishwashing, central kitchen?
3- If all sections are available are they also efficiently separated?
4- Was the refrigerator temperature the right one? Were the items in it separated properly? (The chicken always goes below the meat but never above)
5- Were the defrosting, cutting, knives clean and not used on other products? Separating chicken from meat? Water used to clean it also clean?
6- How about ambient room temperature, location, and the windows were they opened or closed? (They are not allowed to be open)
7- What about surrounding chemical hazards?( Strong perfumes , pesticides..)
8- Was there control of worker personal hygiene in place? (Health, hair, nails, shoes..)
9- Was there a risk of cross contamination? (It occurs when bacteria cross from food to food, hand to food or equipment to food)

Any point or all of them may have led to the stamp of “غير مطابق” or ”Not compliant” .

The ministry of health should publish the list of restaurants with explanation of what wasn’t up to the standard to avoid causing major reputation damage and mass panic.

If the mistake wasn’t a major one (transferring salmonella is way different than placing chicken above meat or forgetting a hairnet) the inspectors of ministry of health are obliged to take immediate actions on the spot before going public. Isn’t that what inspectors do?

PS: Elyse Abdel Massih is dietitian with experience and knowledge in food service

London’s ‘Gherkin’ Tower Sold To Lebanese-Brazilian Billionaire Joseph Safra

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gherkin

Joseph Safra is presumably the richest banker in the world and is the top ranked Lebanese in the world’s richest Arabs list.

The Safra Group bought the Gherkin for a bit over 1 Billion Dollars.

London’s Gherkin skyscraper has been sold to investment giant the Safra Group in a deal reportedly worth £726m. BBC News spoke to a consultancy firm ahead of the sale to gauge how much the capital’s iconic skyline might now be worth.

It is estimated that 10 of the buildings that make up the city’s world-renowned skyline could be worth more than £7.2bn ($11.4bn). [BBC]

Rich-Leb

Quick Review: Dumb and Dumber To

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I don’t know how many of you remember the original “Dumb and Dumber” that was released back in 1994, but it was hilarious and a huge success. The prequel “Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd” that went out in 2003 and didn’t include Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels was a complete disaster though and I wasn’t expecting any new sequel after that, unless both original actors agreed to take part in it and that’s what happened.

“Dumb and Dumber To” brings back Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, aka Lloyd and Harry as they try to convince people 20 years later that “if they each had half a brain, together they would still only have half a brain”. It’s a fun movie to watch and if you liked the randomness of the first movie, you will not be disappointed with this one.